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196 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look no further
If you're reading this I guess is because you have an interest in bodyweight training, at the moment this is the one stop book on upper body strength training, period.

Though, bare in mind it's not everything bodyweight, it focuses solely on upper body strength development in a gymnast's way, it's not a gymnastic skills manual (no cartwheels, swings, shoulder...
Published on December 29, 2011 by VENTRE TIZIANA

versus
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but needs work
The book has some useful information, but it is buried under some really bad writing/editing. The poor presentation makes the book really hard to read. For example on page 109 the author writes "In conclusion, do make things too complicated." when he is trying to describe how to keep programming simple. The entire book is littered with the same type of mistakes and...
Published 23 months ago by Steve


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196 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look no further, December 29, 2011
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
If you're reading this I guess is because you have an interest in bodyweight training, at the moment this is the one stop book on upper body strength training, period.

Though, bare in mind it's not everything bodyweight, it focuses solely on upper body strength development in a gymnast's way, it's not a gymnastic skills manual (no cartwheels, swings, shoulder inlocates and the likes) it's not about conditioning, it's not about GPP (general physical preparedness), it's not about plyometrics or anything else. Now, don't get me wrong, this book is for EVERYONE, it teaches you how to develop ridiculous amounts of strength, all the way to iron cross, planche and more. You decide how far to go in your journey, it provides you the knowledge for such amazing goals.

The fact the author has personally answered all questions on [...] forum shows you how he keeps his feet on the ground. There's no hype. He doesn't try to sell you anything, he's just so passionate about the subject to feel the urge to share it.

I'd rate the book 9.5 out of 10 just because being self edited and published leaves some room for improvements, in particular for the visual appealing and layout. I'm pretty sure it will easily become a best seller in the hands of a publisher like Human Kinetics.

As others have said before me you will end up comparing his work with the few other books available on bodyweigth training.

The following rating is based on the fact that Overcoming Gravity has set the standard.

Naked warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline. 2.0 don't even bother with this one, more hype than contents. 2 exercise progressions in it. (one arm push-up and one leg squat)

Convict conditioning by Paul Wade. 3.5 catchy book laid out very well though not very extensive or sensible. 6 exercise progressions, one progression is far too easy and another one is only hypothetical, 4 are about unilateral development (one arm or one leg).

Never gymless by Ross Enamait. 7.0 it delivers what promises, doesn't leave you with a single excuse not to pursue a superior conditioning. Best book for an all around bodyweight fitness plan (very underground and tough). Warmly suggested.

Building the gymnastic bodies by Christopher Sommer. 5.0 One of those books that intrigues you but doesn't want to teach you. It purposefully leaves you baffled and unable to progress efficiently as you have to wait for future releases, attend very expensive top secret seminars or spend countless hours on the forum to get a grasp of only what people are allowed to disclose under the author supervision. Maybe in ten years when all his material will be eventually released and you'll have spent quite a fortune collecting it you may end up with the kind of understanding that Overcoming gravity is trying to pass you.

Alberto Giuliani
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and very informative, February 12, 2012
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
I have been a long time follower of Steven Low's blog [...] and an avid student of gymnastics and bodyweight training. My favorite thing about the book is the progressions. Often times I find that many other authors have progressions that are too fast or difficult to follow. But in Overcoming Gravity, the progressions are in much smaller steps which allows for the reader to pick up at his or her ability easily and immediately begin developing their strength. This book does not require that you must already have a foundation in gymnastics or bodyweight training which makes it a fantastic resource for beginners, but beyond that, it's also an amazing resource for even advanced gymnasts as the progressions continue on to even the most demanding movements like inverted crosses or elevators.

Overall, it is a plethora of information, almost too much information to retain from a single reading. But that shouldn't stop you from using it as a reference tool. If you're debating between buying Overcoming Gravity and Building the Gymnastic Body, Overcoming Gravity is the definite winner. It is more in depth, more complete, and easier to follow as well as actually implement. I started playing around with the various progressions the first day the book arrived. My brother started following the planche progressions the week after Christmas, and he's already close to holding a straddle planche in less than 2 months. If you purchased Building the Gymnastic Body and felt you were left hanging by the lack of programming discussion, this is your solution as well.

Steven Low does an excellent job of thoroughly covering programming to the point where you can build your own routine without requiring the assistance of a coach. The book covers so much ground it's remarkable. There is physiology, injury prevention, injury rehab, skill development, program design, nutrition, lifestyle, and so much more. This book is probably the best book on fitness and health that I have read in the past year, maybe even longer. Definitely something you'll want to add to your collection.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive text on the topic, December 9, 2011
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
Overcoming Gravity is a veritable compendium of information on how to improve in bodyweight strength and mobility from the level of complete novice through expert. Mr. Low is well versed in the fields of exercise science and kinesiology, and he applies this knowledge towards a greater understanding of the process of bodyweight exercise. This book will give you a solid foundation on how to build your own gymnastic or bodyweight strength routine: How many days a week to train, which exercises to choose, how to do those exercises, how many reps, how many sets, etc. The book also contains impressive chapters on common injuries, how to rehabilitate, and how to prevent in the first place. Mr Low might not be the coach of national champion athletes, but he has a deep understanding of the subject and the knowledge and language to explain the how and why of it all to the layperson. I highly recommend this book to any person looking to advance in bodyweight exercise strength and skills.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant classic!, April 2, 2012
This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
If you are interested in bodyweight training, gymnastic moves or training theory - buy this book.

Over the years, I've read a lot of exercise literature and I have lifted a lot of weights. I study the human body too, so I'm well above averagely interested in how the body responds to training.

This book is literally a groundbreaker and it will become a classic. It opened my eyes to new concepts and I would compare the impact it's had on me to that of great books like Starting Strength and Stretching Scientifically. The theory is laid out in a way that is more accessible than in both of these other two books, but a lot of the concepts presented here are "newer" in a sense. They have been around for a long time, but it's likely that many people have never heard of them. So if you are interested in the theory, it's an interesting read for sure. Since Steven is a physiotherapy student in addition to being a former gymnast, there is a lot of focus on injury pre-/rehabilitation as well. And that's a welcome resource to have, since this type of training is very hard on the body if done excessively. The author is not very conservative either, and is constantly keeping up to date on research and developments in this field of science. So it's quite cutting edge and not very dogmatic.

About the book itself, I would say that the layout and wrapping is quite simplistic. There are quite a few typos here and there. I wouldn't get caught up in that, this is the first edition and it is not a coffeetable book. What it is, is a tome of knowledge that contains everything you need to know to get into serious bodyweight training in addition to the basic concepts of training that can be applied to weightlifting as well. When I say tome, I mean that it is over 500 pages and quite sizeable. It's a book that deserves to be bent, ruffled, stained with sweat, blood and chalk before finally put into your bookshelf after reading and rereading. It's meant to be used along with your training. So even though it could look more glossy and fancy, this is a 5-star book, don't let appearances deceive you.

As mentioned, there is training theory, how you would go about setting up a program, then a large section on injuries and how to prevent them and get back from them, a section on paleo nutrition, followed by descriptions of hundreds of exercises and finally tables showing you how the exercises relate to each other and summing up program construction from the early chapters.

This kind of training is for you if you are into Crossfit, want to do something more "functional" than lifting weights, want to go for that dense gymnast look, want to mix up weightlifting with bodyweight movements to improve your fitness in a more full spectrum or if you are into other sports where you rely on being able to move your body with great strength and awareness, like martial arts, climbing, dancing, parkour or other contact/combat sports.

This type of training is very much upper-body oriented, in fact the author recommends using weights to strengthen the lower body, especially with squats and deadlifts. You will not find descriptions of how to do this though, but you can find that in other books: Starting Strength and Olympic Weightlifting being solid choices. There are options for bodyweight legwork even if it is not mentioned here: shrimp squats, pistols and GHR being most notable. You will need to develop a lot of flexibility to succeed as well. It's a humbling start, even if you are athletic and strong. But by manipulating leverage and making the same kind of exercise progressively harder, you can use variations on excellent exercises like the push-up - that normally suffers from not being able to be weighted down well enough to be used for building strength. It's very heavy, comparable more to powerlifting than the bodybuilding type of weightlifting, although by manipulating leverage, time, sets and reps you can shift more towards hypertrophy if you want to. The jumps in difficulty between progressions sometimes feel like you are going from a 150 pound squat to a 250 pound squat, so it takes perseverance and determination to succeed. But why do regular push-ups if you can do handstand push-ups instead?

If you have access to a gym and you are in decent physical shape, that is optimal. But if not, you can find a good starting point in this book anyway. It is written for both novices and intermediates. You really don't need any equipment for this, but I warmly recommend getting a set of gymnastic rings from Gymnastic bodies or Rogue fitness, a block of climbing chalk, a theraband and maybe a weighted vest. Then there will be no limit to what you can do, wherever you are. Youtube has no end of exercise demonstrations performed with various levels of success if you need extra visualization in addition to the exercise descriptions in the book.

Compared to Building the Gymnastic Body - one of the very few alternatives if you want to get into this kind of training - I'd say OG is better. BtGB is a very good book as well, and the descriptions of the exercises there are nice, but it lacks the info on how to actually set up your training program and troubleshoot it so you can start out from scratch. Overcoming Gravity is very focused on this and therefore it is a much better way to start bodyweight training, in my opinion. If you are a bodybuilder or pure powerlifter, there are certainly better books for that, but if you are a mixed athlete or into the sports previously mentioned, this book will show you new ways of developing your fitness.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough textbook for the amateur gymnast, January 7, 2012
This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
Looking at this massive 500+ page book, I feel like I'm back in college carrying a science or math textbook. Fortunately, this book is amazingly interesting and hard to put down. I am 37 years old and always wanted to learn gymnastic movements. This book is my guide for that pursuit.

Mr. Low thoroughly explains how to construct a rep and set scheme, how to pick exercises, and even how to mix gymnastics with other sports. He complements this information with an abundant information on injury prevention including prehab, mobility, range of motion, and rehab. He even adds advise on nutrition and sleep. He literally left no stone unturned on the subject of amateur gymnastics.

Mr. Low has a knack for explaining movements in an easy and readable way for the novice and to the expert alike. I had been struggling at ring muscle ups but with the aid of Mr. Low's movement description I easily solved my issue - what no other book or online advise could do.

I previously purchased Summer's Building the Gymnastics Body, and one simply can't even compare the two books. Mr. Low's book is so much more thorough and in-depth that I would be pretty embarrassed if I was Coach Summer. Nevertheless, I will use both books to aid in my gymnastic progressions. Mr. Low's book does need to better edited, as there are some typographical errors and some polishing of structure and content to make it a true masterpiece.

Mr. Low's book is a requirement for any adult interested in learning gymnastic movements such as handstands or planches and even iron crosses and the like. Don't bother training without the book, as without it, you will only stagnate and may never reach your potential.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but needs work, July 29, 2012
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
The book has some useful information, but it is buried under some really bad writing/editing. The poor presentation makes the book really hard to read. For example on page 109 the author writes "In conclusion, do make things too complicated." when he is trying to describe how to keep programming simple. The entire book is littered with the same type of mistakes and reads like it was written by a high school kid. An updated edition professionally written with real pictures instead of the stick figures could bring the book to a 5 star rating.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This tome is better than a personal trainer!, March 19, 2012
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
I'm a martial artist and pro dancer in Italy i needed something to spice up my dancing moves and stay fit, i thought gymnastics will be perfect, i bought all the books on gymnastic i could find, and "overcoming gravity" is way better than the other: the "convict conditioning" approach is too weak: little progression and lots of hype this is a common denominator in this kind of books even "never gymless" or "building the gymnastic body" or "the naked warrior" all this books seem to reveal part of a secret path to super strenght but they miss to describe the DETAILS the leave so many things vague to have the chance for another book...Overcoming Gravity is not smart cause he talks about everything you need to build a routine that suit your need leaving no place for other book, the author could have followed the trend to inform a little gaining a lot but he didn't.
This book is like a personal trainer and I would have payed gladly 5 times his price to have it.. and the bigger surprise is that at the site[...]you can talk directly with the author,i posted my routine there and after 3 hours he gave me lots of pointer on my first routine and he answered me on facebook 10 minutes ago answering on line at a lot of questions, trust me this Steven Low guy is a rare exception: he really want you to improve....I hope this book will became the "Bibble" of bodyweight training, cause the content is comprehensive and leave just a few questions to the reader that can easily ask the author in his site.
The only problem that the author will have in the future will be that it will be very difficult to make a book better than this one.there are a couple of typos but no one is perfect(sorry for my english i know is terrible) I never do reviews but i had to do this one cause the author really deserve it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive text on building upper body strength through bodyweight, February 1, 2012
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
This huge tome is something of a hybrid textbook and guidebook on developing upper body strength through the use of rings, floor routines and paralettes. Packed as it is with background information and rationale, it is geared more to workout nerds and serious trainers than people looking for casual workout advice.

This book manages to combine two elements which are very difficult to put together gracefully-- 1) it is comprehensive on the movements themselves and the rationale and need for them and 2) it gives sound practical programming advice to help the reader create a program for himself or others.

As others have noted, the text needs editing. However, we should keep in mind that a book like this (with all its glorious technicality) may never have been published had it not been self-published. As such, I look forward to buying the second edition as this book is an instant classic and has room to grow and improve even more.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A systematic method of applying strength training to bodyweight & gymnastics!, December 25, 2011
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This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
Overcoming Gravity is by far the best book on the market that details how to program your fitness routine to achieve high level gymnastics movements such as the planche, iron cross, and front lever. Unlike other related books such as Chris Sommers, Building the Gymnastic Body, which was extremely weak in its programming explanation, and movement tutorials,and constantly stated that information would be coming in later installments.
Instead of this, Steven takes the reader through a detailed learning experience that outlines the principles of strength training, injury prevention/ rehab, flexibility ,and mobility training all pertaining to higher level body weight training. And also teaches the reader how to relate these key concepts to program for the novice, intermediate, advanced, and elite athlete with guidelines that are clear and precise.

The programming chapters are unbelievable! Unlike related literature and the dozens of internet tutorials claiming to provide quick 6- month tutorials to obtain skills such as the planche. Steve breaks down the physiology of the movements, explaining how muscle length and various positions influences the difficulty of a skill. He also provides detailed charts that take your max static hold or max reps of a movement, and break it down into recommended sets, reps, that allows you to compare your static holds, eccentrics, and concentric to make keeping your training volume much easier, and training more efficient!
Overcoming Gravity also provides the best tutorial and detailed step by step progression for movements such as the basic handstand to the iron cross.
Aside from the wonderful content, Steven presents the information in a " No BS" fashion. The text is not overloaded with useless information. But instead he presents the facts, as well as his own personal experience in an easy to read fashion. I did not find myself constantly needing to take breaks with this book, instead I found the text very to-the point and enjoyable.
This book is a must have for anyone who is training in gymnastics, or is a fitness enthusiast like myself with an interest in training higher level body weight movements.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on bodyweight training., May 3, 2012
By 
This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
"Overcoming Gravity" by Steven Low is the most comprehensive book regarding bodyweight strength published to date. In many ways it is a monumental work, taking on a huge variety of topics that are important to the dedicated bodyweight trainer.

It covers:
Individual exercise technique
General physiology of adaptation exercise
Joint preparation
General Exercise programming
Specific training plans
and
Etiology of injuries and how to adapt your training around injury

This is a lot to cover in a single book and the main faults in the book are related to this vast scope. The reading can be dense and it requires patience to work through all of the material.
For those who do they will find one of the best resources on training in general. They will come away with a better understanding of not just of how to achieve a planche or press to handstand but how to building training programs towards any goal.

The content of "Overcoming Gravity" is in my opinion as important as Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength," and unlike "Starting Strength" there really is no alternative source that offers anywhere near the same depth of information. That said, Low does not possess Rippetoe's ability to turn a phrase and did not have access to the same level of editing, so the book suffers from a certain level of dryness and frequent typos. That said, it is well worth the reader's time to work through the book, even if it required multiple readings in places.

The book is broken down into three parts. Part one is about how to construct a bodyweight routine and understanding the basic physiology necessary to know what you are doing. Part 2 focuses on injury prevention and and management. Part 3 covers the individual exercises and sample programs. Rather than straight through, I read the the book in the order of Part 1, Part 3, and then Part 2, and believe it flows better that way.

The first section is great, offering a very in-depth and clear overview of the physiology of adaptation to exercise and the principles behind bodyweight exercise and then showing us how we can apply them towards achieving our goals.

I was particularly impressed by the charts, however these can be difficult to read if you don't have the priors on the acronyms, so it might be useful to read the section on individual exercises prior to reviewing the charts. Once you can clearly understand it, the bodyweight progression chart is incredibly useful in understanding your overall level where your strength and weaknesses are, and how to break each goal down into small progressive steps. The charts proved incredibly accurate for me in predicting where I was on a given progression.

The second section was also equally impressive, providing an invaluable guide to injuries for athletes. The only major problem I had with the second section was that it was second. I was continuously flipping back and forth between the first and third section while the second section felt more standalone.

The third section is the most problematic. Many of the exercise descriptions are extremely detailed and useful, however many are just simple repetitions of earlier material and it's not made clear which sections one should read and which are simply retreads of earlier information.

The graphics accompanying the exercise descriptions leave something to be desired, and a more extensive review of errors in pictures and cuing instructions would have been very useful.

All said and done, for a self-published book "Overcoming Gravity" is incredibly impressive and an invaluable resource for a wide variety of athletes. Certain aspects of organization and editing leave something to be desired but that should not stop anyone from picking up this book and making it a fixture in their training library.

For the gymnast, bodyweight enthusiast, traceur, crossfitter, capoerista and general athlete/mover this book should be required reading.
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